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Day Trip to Winston-Salem: A City of History, Art, and Craft Breweries

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What do you look for in a day trip? Art? A bit of culture? Some historical sites? Great local food? You’ll get it all in a day trip to Winston-Salem. Plus, the city is easy to reach from Charlotte or Raleigh.

Though we’ve been in Charlotte for a couple of years now, for some reason this was our first trip to Winston-Salem, but I can guarantee one day we will be back.

We knew before starting out some of the main tourist attractions were still closed due to Covid. However, this didn’t really hinder our day. Actually, we probably enjoyed it even more, since we could access almost everything we wanted to see, without the crowds. 

Daytrip to Winston-Salem Pinterest Image

Day Trip to Winston-Salem

Parking in the free lot next to the Old Salem Visitor Center, we started our day trip by crossing the Old Salem covered pedestrian bridge. Like stepping through a time portal, the bridge made the perfect segue into the historical area of Old Salem.

Old Salem wooden covered bridge, Winston-Salem, NC

Old Salem Museum & Gardens

Technically closed due to Covid, the Old Salem Museum & Gardens had few other tourists during our visit, we practically had the whole village to ourselves. Though we found plenty to see just walking around the old town.

During normal times, some of the historical buildings open as part of the ticketed living history museum. Great for history buffs, those interested in the Moravian culture, and folks with kids would probably enjoy it more when everything is open.

However, we don’t imagine opening back up is that far off. The Frank L. Horton Museum Center and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), just opened for select days during our June visit. More importantly, so did the C. Winkler Bakery with their yummy sugar cakes.

African Moravian log church in Old Salem, Winston-Salem, NC_
Old wooden barn at the Old Salem Museums & Gardens Administrative Offices, Winston-Salem, NC_
sign for fouth oldest house 1767 in Winston-Salem, NC_

Salem Pathways

Love exploration games? As we wondered through the old town, we kept noticing signs with QR codes. Finally giving it a go, we scanned one of the codes.

The code took us to the Salem Pathways site where we picked a historical character to follow. As we read through the story, we picked reactions which drove the “dialogue” and where we went.

A neat idea, with a ton of historical information, but with the buildings closed we figured some of the dialogue may be tied with what’s inside.

If you followed one of the pathways, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Starting sign for one of the Salem Pathways, Winston-Salem, NC_

Salem Moravian God's Acre Cemetery

Rarely would we include a cemetery in our travel posts, but this one is worth a look.

Notice anything about the headstones? The graveyard is simple and uniform. Everyone is buried the same. No monuments or statues. Nothing elaborate and nothing to separate the rich from the poor.

Burials are done chronologically; in the order they are “called home to be with the Lord.” Men, women, and children are buried separately, in what the Moravian Church calls a “Choir System.” Exactly as it sounds, this formation of men on one side and women on the other represents the seating in church.

Headstones at Salem Moravian God's Acre Cemetery, Winston-Salem, NC_

Important Tip on Visiting Old Salem

Walking shoes! Seriously, all the sidewalks are cobblestone or brick, and you will do a lot of walking. Don’t even think about high heels unless you’re practicing for a balancing act in the circus. I was in healed flats and the sidewalks were a nightmare, but Old Salem sure is pretty.

Old brick houses of old Salem, Winston-Salem, NC_

Innovation Quarter

After hobbling to the car with aching feet, we drove into downtown Winston-Salem to grab some lunch.

Seriously impressed with the amount of local food options in Winston-Salem, we decided on a chicken and biscuit brunch at Krankies near Bailey Park.

Throughout the city, old water towers and smokestacks dominated the skyline. None more prominent than the R.J.R. Tobacco Company tower. However, today, this former cigarette factory’s coal plant is now part of Innovation Quarter, a mixed-space redevelopment project. 

Krankies chicken biscuit with tatter tots, Winston-Salem, NC_
R.J.R. Tobacco Power station tower. Winston-Salem, NC_

Our lunch decision was a little strategic and not just based on trying the local biscuits. Right across the street from Krankies is the Black Mountain Chocolate company. I’m actually grateful we don’t live in Winston-Salem; I’d be too tempted to have an eclair every day and Jeremy was all about that chocolate cheesecake. Yummm!

Eclair and chocolate cheesecake from Black Mountain Chocolate, Winston-Salem, NC_

Winston-Salem Arts District

Needing to walk off our amazing lunch and dessert, we strolled (aka waddled) over to Winston-Salem’s Arts District.

Especially near the intersection of Trade St. and W. 6th St., the area was lined with art galleries. From paintings, to pottery, to … let’s say unique creations, this is a place to go if you’re looking for an art piece.

On just about every corner, larger than life murals caught our attention.

Deep Sea Art Mural by JEKS Visual Artist, Winston-Salem, NC_
Deep Sea Art Mural by JEKS Visual Artist
The Chronicle mural by Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet honors the history of the black press from the 1700s up until the 1960s, Winston-Salem, NC_
The Chronicle mural by Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet honors the history of the black press from the 1700s up until the 1960s,

Jeremy’s a sucker for arcades, so it was no surprise we found ourselves playing some pinball in the Reboot Arcade Bar. While you’re there don’t forget to check out their awesome mural.

mural on side of REEBOOT Arcade bar, Winston-Salem, NC_
Reboot arcade Bar mural done by various artists

Day Trip to the Winston-Salem Breweries

After all that walking, we were thirsty and needed to kick our feet up for a while. Luckily, just like Asheville and Charlotte, Winston-Salem has an amazing craft brewery scene.

We found our way to Fiddlin’ Fish and loved their sours. Next time, Jeremy’s keen to try their chocolate stout. Though, with so many more breweries to try we may have to stay a little longer. Do you have a favorite we should try next time?

Craft beers from Fiddlin Fish, Winston-Salem

Check our other North Carolina articles for more ideas on day trips in the state.

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